Finding a fitness routine that I could actually stick to has taken years! It really isn't easy. We usually jump on the latest fitness craze in search of the perfect solution only to find we can't commit to that either. I've done it all, martial arts, Zumba, walking, vegetarianism, pescatarian, flexitarian, the Simply Fit board, gym memberships, and most recently the Keto diet. The Keto diet isn't easy to stick to, but it's my favourite so far. The ketogenic diet (or keto diet, for short) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
When I first heard about this, I found it really hard to believe that a high-fat diet was going to help me to lose weight. When I looked into it more closely, I learned that I'm supposed to avoid carb-based foods like grains, sugars, legumes, rice, potatoes, candy, juice and even most fruits and instead opt for foods such as meat, fish, eggs, butter, nuts, healthy oils, avocados and plenty of low-carb veggies. I had some major problems with this. First, carbs are my soulmate. I LOOOOOOOVE pasta and literally eat it every day (don't judge me). But this chart made it easier to digest. When I saw I could still have some carbs, I literally cut rice and bread out and just clung to my pasta as my only source of carbs (with the occasional very small serving of potato with a breakfast bowl).
This change quickly went from a "diet" to a complete lifestyle change. I didn't even miss the foods I'm not supposed to be eating and I liked the challenge of finding new ways to enjoy foods I love. I started swapping cauliflower for rice and even a few pasta dishes. When I combined this diet with my new exercise routine, I actually lost 2 inches on my back, waist and hips in just two months. I can't tell you how good it felt for my pants to fit again. I'm ashamed to admit there were days at work my blouse wouldn't be tucked in to hide the fact that my pants could no longer button.
Of course when my vacation started, it became very difficult to maintain my new diet as I often had to eat what was available and I couldn't exercise like I normally would. But once I came back, I was re-committed and I'm starting to feel like my old self again. So I thought I'd share some of my exercises that I've been doing.
When I'm working my back and arms, there are three machines at the park I use. It's free-weight exercises so I'm lifting my own body weight. Either I'm pushing upwards (great for shoulders), pulling down or rowing. Using a 20lb resistance band also helps. I usually do 4 sets (15, then 12, then 10, then 8).
Abs are a killer. It depends on my trainer's mood. Sometimes we "go for broke" which is sit ups until I can't any more. It's mostly what he calls Romans (sit ups that require me to come all the way up and touch his hands wherever they are). Below are other ab workouts I do.
When you're creating your fitness routine, I want you to keep a few things in mind:
- Start with some selfies. In order to accurately track your progress, it’s helpful to identify your starting point and then define your goal. Measuring tape is also crucial as a method to track your progress. The first week you’re easing back into exercising, start small. Know that any movement is good movement.
- BUT DON'T STAY THERE. I can't tell you how many people think 10 minutes of exercise every day is sufficient. It's not. It does nothing. If you didn't know, you have to burn 3,500 calories just to lose 1 pound! So if you're consuming 2,000 or more calories on a daily basis and think 10 minutes of some at home workout you found on Pinterest is sufficient, I'm sorry, it's not.
- Fitness experts and doctors alike often say the “best exercise” is the one you enjoy and will keep doing. If you hate boot camp workouts or can’t see yourself making a weekly commitment to yoga, move on to something you’ll look forward to showing up for. That workout could be a dance class, Spinning, ballet-inspired barre workouts, or walking with friends. Even though the exercises I do now aren't what I typically love doing, what made my new routine stick is the exercise was free and I was with friends. I find I'm more motivated when I have a great support system and the workout is within my budget. Gym fees can really add up overtime and if you miss a few days because of a busy schedule, it's really money wasted.
If you follow this plan strictly for the next few weeks, you will definitely see some positive changes in your physique and overall health. Stay focused and buddy up, if you can. You can do this! Will you join me?